#EAHIL2012 CEC 1: Drupal for Librarians

5 07 2012

This week I’m blogging at (and mostly about) the 13th EAHIL conference in Brussels. EAHIL stands for European Association for Health Information and Libraries.

I already blogged about the second Continuing Education Course (CEC) I followed, but I followed a continuing education course at Mondays, one day earlier. That session was led by Patrice Chalon, who is a Knowledge Manager at KCE – Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre.

The first part was theoretical and easy to follow. Unfortunately there were quite a few mishaps with the practical part (some people could not install the program via the USB-stick, parts of the website were deleted and the computers were slow), but the entire session was instructive anyway. Even though I was about the only person (of 6) lacking CMS or HTML knowledge (but rereading the course abstract I now realize that was a prerequisite….)

Drupal is a freely available, easy to use,  modular content management system (CMS), for which you don’t need to have extensive programming (or HTML) experience.

Drupal was created by a Belgium student (Dries Buytaert) in 2000. It evolved from drop.org (small news site with build-in web board to share news among friends)  to Drupal (pronounced as “droo-puhl”, derived from the English pronunciation of the Dutch word “Druppel” which means “drop”). The purpose was to enable others to use and extend the experimentation platform so that more people could develop it further.

Drupal.org is a well established and active community with over 630,000 subscribed members.

This web application makes use of PHP as a programming language and MySQL as a database backend.

In Drupal every “page” is a node. You can define as many nodes as you need (news, page, event etc) and create “child” pages if you like (and move them to another parent page if necessary).

The editing function is easy: you can easily edit the format without needing HTML (looks quite like WordPress) and add files as if were email. Therefore it could easily have a wiki function as well.

Drupal is fitted with a very good taxonomy system. This helps to organize nodes and menus.

Nodes, account registration and maintenance, menu management, and system administration all are basic features of  the standard release of Drupal, known as Drupal core.

But thanks to the large community, Drupal benefits from thousands of third party modules, to tailor Drupal to your needs. When choosing modules it is important to check for longevity (are modules still being adapted for new Drupal releases, how many downloads are there: the more downloads the more popular the module, the more likely the module is going to stay).

There are also different themes.

Drupal is used a lot by libraries and libraries in turn have developed specific modules apt to use for library-purposes.

The view-module enables you to provide a view of the metadata and you can use metadata as a filter to create lists. Patrick was very enthusiastic about the bibliographic function (“the ENDNOTE within the context management system). He showed that it was very easy to import and search for bibliographic records (and metadata) from PubMed, Google Scholar etc (and maintain correct links over time), i.e. just enter the PMID, DOI lookup etc. Keywords like MeSH are loaded correctly.

Forgive me if I don’t remember (and even may be wrong about) the technical details, but it really looked like a great tool with many possible forms of  uses.

If you need more information you can contact Patrick (Twitter: @pchalon) or consult Drupal and especially the Drupal Group “Libraries”  and Drupalib.

And as said, there is a large active community. For Drupal’s motto is “Come for the software, stay for the community.”

Examples of Drupal Websites:
 http://www.cochrane.org/. The new face of the Cochrane was created by its webmaster Chris Mavergames, and it is far more inviting to read and more interactive then it’s boring predecessor. As a matter of fact it was Chris’ enthusiasm about Drupal and the new looks of the Cochrane site which raised my interest into Drupal. Chris has a website about Drupal (& web development, linked data & information architecture in general) and a Twitter list of Drupal folks you can follow.

Another example is http://htai.org/vortal, created by Patrick. Here is a presentation by Patrick that shows more details about this website (and Drupal’s versatility to create library websites).

This blogpost is largely based on the comprehensive course notes of Patrick Chalon’s “Drupal for Librarians” (CC), supplemented with my own notes.

Friday Foolery #48 Brilliant Library Notices

13 01 2012

Today’s Friday Foolery post is handed on a silver platter by my Australian friend Mike Cadogan @sandnsurf from Life in the Fast Lane

Yes, aren’t these brilliant librarian notices from the Milwaukee Public Library?!


@Bitethedust, also from Australian rightly noticed: there’s no better place to stick @sandnsurf than in Friday foolery

Indeed at Life at the Fast Lane they have fun posts amidst the serious (mostly ER) topics. Want more Friday Fun than have a look at the Funtabulously Frivolous Friday Five Posts.

National Library Week

12 04 2011

It is National Library Week! Did you know that?

To be honest I didn’t.

Today, Tuesday, is even National Library Workers Day — a time to thank librarians and the rest of the library staff (LA-Times).

I didn’t know that either, until I received a tweet from @doc_emer which was retweeted by doctor_V (see Fig).

Now I know.

Thank you Dr. Emer and Bryan Vartabedian (Doctor V). You made my day!




@amcunningham (AnneMarie Cunningham) tweeted:
Since it’s national library week, thought I’d say thanks to all the great librarians on this list:) http://bit.ly/gkzKZm



The Library of the University of Amsterdam goes… DigiZine with UvaLink. Beep Beep.

3 08 2010

Yesterday I went to the Facebook page of Alice Doek,  head of information services at Library of the University of Amsterdam (UBA), to wish her a happy birthday. As an organizer of the UBA-SPOETNIK course on NEW Internet communication methods for librarians, Alice inspired the start of this blog.

At her Facebook page I read about the latest Web 2.0 initiative of the UBA, Alice contributed to: UvA-link.
UvA-link is a magazine about the University Library (UB) and the Central Computer Service (IC) of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) with videos, moving images, sounds and other special effects: in other words a DigiZine.

Such a DigiZine is indescribable. So please have a look yourself. And don’t forget to click on the links or signs like at the start of a chapter!

The DigiZine is literally an eye-catcher: it starts with an eye which apparently looks at turning pages, it continues with a conversation between directors of the IC and UB about the future of information – they seem to step right out of the digital magazine-, a moving collage about web lectures, etcetera.

UVA-link is a smart piece of work and probably a good tool to reach library users and draw their attention to existing services. Well done!
I enjoyed reading it, although care must be taken not to overdo it: the e-part must be functional, else it can become annoying. Like the car that keeps on beeping on the page introducing OTOO*(Online toepassingen voor onderzoek en onderwijs), even after following a link.
It does remind me of the toys my girls used to have, with colorful buttons that produced mechanical sounds when pressed upon (and it seems that toddlers just can’t get enough of it) ….. Scientists, even students, are beyond that stage…
(*propably OTOO is derived from the Dutch word for car: AUTO, which is pronounced as OTOO by kids)

By the way, the OTOO-page is another new initiative of the UBA. It is a (Dutch) instruction on social media and its use for education and academia. It mostly consists of text with many links to other pages or videos. Really useful.
IMHO, however, it needs to be jazzed up to become more attractive for beginners, that have no idea about the possibilities of social media. Perhaps this OTOO-page needs to be wrapped up with a bit of DigiZine? Just suggesting….

In short,
UvA-link  is a DigiZine about the University Library and the Central Computer Service for staff and students of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). UvA-link will appear four times a year. You can subscribe (only by email) via the top right button in the magazine.

Even non Dutch-speaking people might enjoy taking a look. Perhaps it might inspire to make a similar DigiZine for your library, company or whatever purpose.



The 21st Century Librarian

21 02 2009

In a previous post “You don’t look like a librarian” I shortly described a book dealing with Librarian stereotypes and what can be done to defeat tired old perceptions and create positive new images…

I really liked the comments of Jenny and Creaky, basically confirming that there is something like a librarian “subtype”: “we look like nice people – curious, friendly, social” (Jenny) and “approachable” (Creaky, who is often spontaneously asked for help when she steps into a Border’s or a Barnes & Noble Bookstore.)

However, although THE stereotypical librarian does not really exist any longer in this information age, the picture continues to exist in some people’s mind (Ruth, the author of the book).


Quite coincidentally @AllergyNotes (Ves Dimov) pointed that same day to an article in the New York Times about the “Twenty-First Century Librarian” highlighting that

“librarians are no longer just reshelving books but play a new role in the information age, since technology has brought out a whole new generation of practices.”

The article describes school librarians who connect kids not only with books but also with information. As an example a video is shown of Stephanie Rosalia, a librarian at an elementary school (see below). Stephanie does do the usual librarian things, but also learns kids how to surf the net and how to search databases using boolean operators(!) and she teaches them website literacy. For instance, a completely fake web site is shown to the kids, who have to learn what information they can trust and what information is suspect. They learn what to do when their search for Christopher Columbus yields 99 million returns in Google. “Kids are overwhelmed, they are swimming in an information ocean.. and they’re drowning”. Librarians like Stephanie guide the kids though the flood of information that confronts them on a daily basis.

Really impressive what crucial skills young kids learn these days, at least in the VS*. Yet as school librarians increasingly teach students crucial skills needed not only for school, but also on the job and in daily life, they are often the first casualties of school budget crunches. Certainly with the global recession kicking in.

* I wonder as how far these 21st century school librarians are specific for the US. My kids (elementary and high school) are not trained in web literacy by a school librarian. But I wish they were.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

By the way, there is a funny blogpost confirming Ruth’s idea that a few (?) people still think “that librarians, they don’t know nothin’ ’bout them complicated computer thingamajigs” on Caveat Lector by Dorothea Salo (hattip @eagledawg – “Nikki”)

You don’t look like a librarian [book]

15 02 2009

youdontlooklikealibrarianI just read an interesting book suggestion at the Dutch Blog “MOQUB’s Bibliotheek der Dingen” (2009/02/15): “Jij lijkt helemaal niet op iemand die in een bibliotheek werkt” or You don’t look like a librarian“.

The title of the blog post just dragged me in. As many librarians I don’ t think I look like a librarian, and I don’t think I behave like one (except for the occasional “shhht”). In fact I know little nothing of cataloguing, interlibrary loans and other typical librarian things (I started my career as researcher).

You don’t look like a librarian” appeared to refer to a book with that title and the subtitle. “Shattering Stereotypes and Creating Positive New Images in the Internet Age”, written by Ruth Kneale

The following questions are addressed: “How pervasive are such stereotypes in the digital era, how are they changing, and how do they affect our daily work, our careers, and the future success of the profession? What can we do to defeat tired old perceptions and create positive new images? In addition to presenting the results of a 1,000+-respondent survey and interviews with opinionated librarians across the spectrum, Kneale draws on published literature and lively discussions from her website” (www.librarian-image.net). According to the publisher, the result is a unique, entertaining, and eye-opening look at librarian stereotypes and their real-world consequences in the Internet Age. As off March 30 (2009) you can order it at http://books.infotoday.com. It costs less than $30

ISBN 978-1-57387-366-6

Minder uitleningen door internet

29 05 2008

Gelezen: Amstelveens Weekblad, 28-5-2008

Onder invloed van toenemend gebruik van internet leent Bibliotheek Amstelveen minder boeken uit. Het totaal aantal uitleningen daalde vorig jaar met 4%, maar dit kwam geheel op het conto van informatieve boeken, vooral die met gezondheidsinformatie. Daarentegen bleven uitleningen van fictie nagenoeg gelijk en boeken over koken, geschiedenis e.d. onverminderd populair.

De invloed van internet manifesteert zich ook op een andere manier: 42% van de verlengingen en 28% van de reserveringen vinden nu plaats langs digitale weg. Het digitaal aanvragen en uitlenen van muziek gaat in de toekomst belangrijker worden.

Opvallend, maar ook wel verklaarbaar dat juist gezondheidsinformatie steeds meer via het internet gezocht wordt. Er zijn vele gezondheidssites, en de informatie is veel actueler èn sneller te vinden dan in boeken. Ik zat gisteren nog met een medische vraag die ik echt in 5 seconden beantwoord zag op internet, op een tijdstip dat de bibliotheek allang dicht was.

Dat was toch wel heel anders in de tijd dat je het moest stellen met een (oppervlakkige en slecht doorzoekbare) medische encyclopedie thuis en je voor elke andere zoekactie overdag op je fiets naar de bieb moest. Maar dat was dan nog wel zo’n klein filiaal om de hoek met ruime openingstijden.

De ander kant van de medaille is wel dat lang niet alle informatie op internet betrouwbaar is. Hoe vaak beweren mensen niet dat (wetenschappelijk) bewezen is dat een of andere middeltje goed werkt. Hebben ze het van een of andere (gekleurde) commerciële of persoonlijke internetsite.

Er ligt nog een schone taak om mensen te leren hoe goed op internet hun weg te vinden en het kaf van het koren te scheiden. Een schone taak, maar voor wie?

Bovenstaande informatie kunt u ook vinden in het jaarverslag van 2007 van Bibliotheek Amstelveen.


Read in a local newspaper (2008-05-28).

Our Public Library noticed a decline in book lending. Interestingly, this was not due to a decreased borrowing of adult fiction or books on history and cooking. It was entirely due to a declined lending of informative books, especially those on health information. Presumably because of the increased use of internet for this purpose.